An Open Letter From The Organisers Of The Anti-ELAB Protest
The following is an open letter, sent to Pulp by the anonymous organisers of the anti-ELAB protest that will take place on campus on Friday the 30th of August at 12pm. It does not necessarily reflect the political beliefs or actions of the USU board or employees.
We are an affinity group of Hong Kong Australians whose goal is to raise awareness about the anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (ELAB) movement happening in Hong Kong.
To those unaware of the current situation in Hong Kong, the extradition bill would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people to face trial in mainland China. Hongkongers fear that this legislation could expose detainees to human rights abuses in the Chinese justice system, and threaten political dissidents. The bill also poses a threat to Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan status, as visitors could potentially be extradited to the mainland. They also fear that this bill will further undermine Hong Kong’s political autonomy under the One Country, Two Systems policy.
Despite numerous protests, with one boasting 2 million attendees, the Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to completely withdraw the bill. In the face of the government’s silence, an increasingly-violent police force has become the main arbiter between the state and the populace. The police now stand accused of brutality. This has led to the protesters’ objective to fulfil the following five demands:
Total withdrawal of the extradition bill
Retraction of the "riot" characterisation (12th June)
Release and exoneration of arrested protesters
Establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into police brutality
Implementation of universal suffrage for Hong Kong
With the advent of the removal of the “Lennon Wall” by Panda affiliated SRC members, an unresponsive bureaucracy who refuses to take a strong stance and the failure to meet quorum for a student protest by the SRC, we would like to also highlight the following points that are more specifically directed towards USYD, but are also easily applicable to universities across Australia.
Despite the fact that the Vice-Chancellor, Michael Spence, has spoken out against the censorship of the Lennon Wall, there has been no immediate action undertaken to protect students’ freedom of expression. The consultative group implementing the recommendations of the French Review should play a more proactive role in the protection of freedom of expression on campus.
Students and SRC members are afraid of supporting the HK protest due to fears of being harassed or reported to CCP authority figures. This is due to the fact that overseas Chinese nationals are implicitly coerced by the CCP to quash any dissent abroad.
The involvement of an SRC member, whose role is to represent students, in the removal of the Lennon Wall which was not offensive in any way.
Consequently, we are hosting a protest on the 30th of August at 12pm to clarify misconceptions regarding the movement in Hong Kong which were propagated by a state backed operation to spread disinformation. As the organisers of the protest, we would like to reiterate that this is NOT an anti-Chinese/China protest, but instead, one of which that is supportive of the movement in Hong Kong and critical of the oppressive policies implemented by the CCP.
We strongly disagree with the joint statement signed by UQ Greens and UQ Socialist Alternative stating that “it [is] irresponsible for domestic students who are not from a group oppressed by the Chinese government to initiate conflict around these questions” and thus, we invite people of all cultural backgrounds to participate in this protest. If you are interested in participating, this protest is not a vehicle for you to push your personal political agenda, but instead, to stand in solidarity with Hong Kong against an authoritarian Chinese state and speak out against the recent attacks on the freedom of expression on campus.
These are the outcomes we wish to achieve through the protest:
Raise support from the international community for HK democracy, awareness of the 5 demands and prevent misinformation.
Provide a dedicated area for students to display their support for HK which will be monitored by security at all times.
To promote a cohesive environment so that all students are able to freely express themselves without fear, hate or judgement. This is especially the case for student representatives in which democratic integrity has been compromised.
While we recognise this is a gradual process, our end goal is for Hong Kongers and Mainland Chinese to set aside our individual differences and come to a mutual understanding. We wish to stand together, united as one against the oppressive regime of the CCP while holding Australian universities accountable for their role as bastions of freedom of speech and expression.
Organisers of the anti-ELAB Protest